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Assimilation: The Second Generation and Beyond, Then and Now

Author

Listed:
  • Joel Perlmann

    (The Jerome Levy Economics Institute)

  • Roger Waldinger

    (The Jerome Levy Economics Institute)

Abstract

Assimilation of today's immigrants is one topic of current debate on immigration. Some observers assert that recent immigrants are unable to assimilate into U.S. society as easily as past immigrants were able to. Others counter that the pressures against assimilation today are not strong. In this working paper, Senior Scholar Joel Perlmann and Research Associate Roger Waldinger, professor of sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles, argue that assimilation cannot be studied as an outcome alone, but should be viewed as a process, aspects of which are important in their own right. Perlmann and Waldinger explore how outsiders become insiders and the social closure, or exclusion, strategies that insiders pursue. The authors compare first-generation Jewish youths around 1920 and Asian youths around 1980 who sought admission to U.S. colleges and universities. When the share of Jewish youths at these institutions began to swell, a backlash occurred and deliberate policies to limit the enrollment of this group were adopted, especially at the elite colleges and universities. These policies were not reversed until laws were passed against discrimination based on race or religion in higher education. Sixty years later, the experience of Asian immigrant youths was different. By 1980 resident Asians had developed some political clout and had established social organizations that could be mobilized around the issue of discrimination. The acculturation of Jewish youths had proceeded rapidly because of the speed with which they acquired education and skills, yet structural assimilation had proceeded more slowly because of exclusionary practices. Because of the earlier struggles of the Jews against discrimination, and because of the Asians political clout, the Asians had more leverage within the institutions that had at one time discriminated against the new group.

Suggested Citation

  • Joel Perlmann & Roger Waldinger, 1998. "Assimilation: The Second Generation and Beyond, Then and Now," Macroeconomics 9805024, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9805024 Note: Type of Document - Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC; to print on PostScript; pages: 43; figures: included
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    1. Buiter, Willem H, 1980. "Walras' Law and All That: Budget Constraints and Balance Sheet Constraints in Period Models and Continuous Time Models," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 1-16, February.
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    JEL classification:

    • E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics

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